Startup news and updates: daily roundup (March 31, 2021)

YourStory presents this daily roundup of the latest startup news and updates from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, March 31, 2021.
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Uniphore raises $140M in Series D round led by Sorenson Capital Partners (Funding)

Uniphore, the Chennai and California-based technology startup that uses artificial intelligence to analyse and improve voice-based services for businesses, has raised $140 million in a Series D round led by Sorenson Capital Partners. Following this funding round, Uniphore has now cumulatively raised $210 million as the startup is now planning to get into the video domain.

Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine protects younger teens

Pfizer announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before they head back to school in the fall. Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus. Pfizer's vaccine is authorised for ages 16 and older.

Recruiting platform GetWork raises Rs 2Cr in seed round led by Artha Venture Fund (Funding)

Gurugram-based edtech and HR-tech platform GetWork on Wednesday announced that it has raised Rs 2 crore in a seed funding round led by Artha Venture Fund (AVF), an early-stage micro-VC fund. The round also saw the participation of India Accelerator's angel investors. With this round, AVF bought a 16 percent stake — its 10th investment in the current round — in the on-campus recruitment platform.

GetWork Co-founders(L:R) Rahul Veerwal, Sumit Gupta

Gig economy can support 90M jobs, add 1.25 pc to GDP: Report

The gig economy can serve up to 90 million jobs in the non-farm sectors in India, with a potential to add 1.25 percent to the GDP over the "long term", a report said on Tuesday. The gig economy, where workers get hired typically for short durations, can lead to transactions of over $250 billion over the long term, a report by consultancy firm BCG said.

Edtech startup Uable raises $3.5M in pre-Series A led by JAFCO Asia, Chiratae Ventures (Funding)

Online life-skills development platform for children, Uable, on Wednesday announced that it has raised $3.5 million in pre-series A round led by JAFCO Asia and Chiratae Ventures. Existing investor 3one4 Capital also participated in the round. With this round, Supriya Singh, Director of South Asia investments, JAFCO Asia, will join the Uable board.

Post stock market listing, Kalyan Jewellers to expand retail footprint by 13 percent

Following its initial public offering (IPO), Kalyan Jewellers on Tuesday announced plans to expand its retail footprint by 13 percent in the first quarter of 2021-22 and add 14 new showrooms on April 24. With the addition of these new outlets, the company will be present in 151 locations.

Digital payments will grow to 71.7 pc of all transactions by 2025: Report

Digital payments will grow at a rapid pace over the next few years and account for a 71.7 percent share of all the payments in India by 2025, a report said on Wednesday. Cash and cheques, the other payment alternatives, will occupy only 28.3 percent share, the report by ACI Worldwide, which provides payment solutions to corporations, said.

Amazon Technologies acquires retail tech startup Perpule for Rs 107 Cr

Amazon Technologies Inc, which is part of global ecommerce company Amazon, has acquired Perpule, a Bengaluru-headquartered retail tech startup for Rs 107.60 crore. This development was disclosed through the regulatory filings made by Perpule. It is expected that the total deal value may rise to Rs 150 crore as Amazon is expected to pay additional remuneration for the employees of Perpule.

Founders of Perpule (L to R): Yogesh Ghaturle, Saketh BSV and Abhinav Pathak

Healthtech startup HealthPlix raises $13.5M in Series B round led by Lightspeed (Funding)

Bengaluru-based healthtech startup HealthPlix on Wednesday announced that it has raised $13.5 million as part of the ongoing Series B funding round led by Lightspeed Ventures. Earlier, in June 2020, the startup had raised $6 million in its Series B round led by JSW Ventures.

Zeda.io raises $450K in pre-seed round from Whiteboard Capital, Paradigm Shift, others (Funding)

Zeda.io — the US and Bengaluru-based technology startup that has developed a solution to manage a product lifecycle — on Wednesday said it raised $450,000 in a pre-seed round from multiple VC funds, including Whiteboard Capital, Paradigm Shift Capital, and Firstcheque.vc, and several angel investors.

AstraZeneca shots halted in parts of Germany for under-60s

Several health authorities in Germany announced Tuesday that they are again suspending the use of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine for residents under the age of 60 amid fresh reports of unusual blood clots in people who recently received the shots. Officials in Berlin, Munich, and the eastern state of Brandenburg took the decision to temporarily halt vaccinations ahead of a meeting later Tuesday of representatives from Germany's 16 states.

Japan's Hitachi acquires GlobalLogic for $9.6B

Hitachi Ltd is buying US digital engineering services company GlobalLogic Inc for $9.6 billion, the Japanese industrial, electronic and construction conglomerate said Wednesday. Tokyo-based Hitachi said the acquisition of the Silicon Valley company will strengthen Hitachi's digital operations in a wide range of businesses, including IT, energy, industry, and mobility. It will speed up efforts in the digital transformation of railways, energy, and healthcare systems that are core Hitachi businesses, it said.

Tech platform Zoko raises $1.4M in seed round from Y Combinator, Binny Bansal's family office, others (Funding)

Tech platform Zoko on Wednesday said it raised $1.4 million (about Rs 10.2 crore) in seed funding from Y Combinator and marquee angel investors Ryan Hoover, Flipkart Co-founder Binny Bansal's family office, and others. According to the statement, the startup will use the new round of funding to bolster its engineering and develop training content in several languages, which can help more customers use Zoko's products.

Grofers to cover COVID-19 vaccination cost for employees, families, contractual staff

Online grocery platform Grofers on Tuesday said it would cover the cost of COVID-19 vaccination for its employees, their family members, and the company's contractual staff. It aims to cover the vaccination cost for 25,000 people across 38 cities. Grofers will cover the vaccination cost for its employees, their family members, including parents, spouse, and two children, and the company's contractual workforce.

Fabulous FY21: India biggest recipient of FPI inflows worth Rs 2.6 lakh cr

India has emerged as the biggest recipient of foreign portfolio investments this fiscal with net inflows worth Rs 2.6 lakh crore, driven by ample liquidity in global markets and hopes of faster economic recovery, according to experts. The current financial year, which witnessed significant disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic, is ending on Wednesday.

Close to 3M people in India acquired digital skills during COVID-19: Microsoft

Microsoft Corp on Tuesday said it has helped over 30 million people across 249 countries and territories gain access to digital skills, including close to three million people from India. This number is higher than the initial goal of 25 million that was announced by the tech giant in June last year.

Facebook steps up efforts to curb hate speech amid elections in Indian states

Facebook is taking several measures, including reducing the distribution of content deemed to be hate speech, as part of its efforts to curb the spread of misinformation during elections in four Indian states. Facebook will also temporarily reduce the distribution of content from accounts that have recently and repeatedly violated the company's policies, the social media giant said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Google Maps will now show eco-friendly routes to destinations

While Google Maps has been showing its users the fastest route to their destinations, it has now directed its efforts to show drivers the most eco-friendly route possible using AI technology. Launching in the US first, the new feature is part of a commitment that Google made in September 2020 to become ‘carbon-free by 2030’.

India's 2021 economic output likely to remain below 2019 level: UN report

India's economic output in 2021 is expected to remain below the 2019 level despite the roll-out of the vaccine to deal with the menace of the coronavirus pandemic, said a report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) released on Tuesday.

Automatic recurring payment to comply with RBI direction from April 1

Come April, there will be no automatic recurring payment for various services including recharge and utility bill as RBI has made Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA) mandatory after March 31. However, banks and payment gateways are seeking additional time to comply with the RBI directive on automatic recurring payment.

Agri sector in need of urgent reform, working to free small farmers from 'pressure' of middlemen: PM Modi

The agriculture sector needs urgent reform and modernisation, and the Indian government has initiated reforms that would free the small farmers from the pressure of middlemen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday. During his poll campaign in Dharapuram, he invoked Tamil classic Thirukkural and said respect for farmers is one common theme in it.

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